Shuffling deck chairs whilst the economy sinks: a grey budget for older voters

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I have a few minutes in my afternoon schedule to give a first budget reaction here.


It is rare I agree with Mark Littelwood of the IEA on anything but we always seem to watch budgets together these days ahead of our regular Radio 2 slot and today we could both agree this was possibly the most boring budget of all time.


At best it shuffled a few deck chairs. I wanted it to deliver investment, housing, rising incomes and jobs. It will not do any of those things. Instead at its core was much commentary all designed to disguise the fact that Osborne has failed. This should have been the budget when he announced the imminent end of deficits. Instead, as ever, that's still five years away.


So, having failed to deliver on his core promise he had to deliver something else to his faithful instead. He did.


First he promised a welfare cap that will attack the disabled and those on low pay but in work the most. He could not be more cynical than that.


Second, he offered big breaks to savers who can now save much more without paying tax, or take more from their pensions without penalty.


Osborne claimed lots of people want an increase in the ISA limit - but I can assure you no one on average earnings does. You can't save £15,000 a year when you make £26,500. So all these measures were a cynical ploy to buy the grey vote which is already largely Tory, but also likely to vote. It was classic pre-election giveaway stuff, but in this case with this government's twist of hitting the poor to reward the better off.


And all that will cost the economy money. In an economy where we're still short of growth we need spending not saving. And in an economy where we need invetsment the Bank of England said last week that this is not driven by savings but by lending. The message had a clearly not reached the Chancellor:he's delivered the reverse of what was needed now to deliver the jobs and stable growth this country desperately needs to deliver a sound economy for the 21st century for the benefit of most of the poeple who live in this country.


It was predictable but it's incompetence and cynicism still annoyed me. People deserve better than that, and they did not get it.